In the “Let’s Talk” Question and Answer Item in the Smith’s School of English スミス英会話 curriculum, Question 8 asks: “Have you ever complained in a restaurant?”
I have not yet had a student at my English school, Smith’s School of English, Kawanishi, answer this in the affirmative, and I can’t remember complaining in a restaurant myself (at least here in Japan).
Until last Friday.
Both my late lesson students cancelled, so I suddenly found myself free for the evening. I called Megumi, my wife, and arranged to meet at Nishinomiya Kitaguchi Hankyu Station 西宮北口駅 and have dinner in a restaurant close by. This is a very popular area, with a real feel of a Japanese “Entertainment District”, and there were many poeple in the narrow streets, enjoying a beautiful evening. The atmosphere was lovely as we walked around the area, but we noticed that most restaurants had queues waiting for tables.
We decided to eat at Fujiya ふじや izakaya
. Although a part of a chain of restaurants, it looked attractive, and has a reputation for good food. There were two salarymen already waiting to be seated, so we were second in the queue. But we waited, and waited. After about 45 minutes the men in the front of the queue were seated with some other customers at a large table. But we waited… Several times one of the waiters spoke to us, saying that a table should become free soon; most of the customers had been there since opening time at 5.00pm, and it was then about 8.30. After about one and a quarter hours four people vacated a table. At the same time two people who had been sitting at the counter left and four people entered the restaurant. We were shown to the counter, while the table was prepared for the new arrival. I was very unhappy, as the counter was not comfortable, and we had been waiting for a long time. Megumi said “We can’t complain, it’s not considered polite.” I said “Yes we can”, and we did.
The manager was apologetic, and showed us to the far more comfortable table.
AND the food was delicious. I’d love to go back there, but maybe next time we’ll choose a quieter evening. Are there any more lessons to be learned from the Smith’s School of English curriculum? I’m going to have a close look.